I’ve mentioned that I am running the Napa Valley Marathon for the second year in a row, on March 6, 2016. I will be in the Bay Area for a little less than a week and I am going with a good friend of mine who is a coworker/friend/race buddy. We do various hobbies together, we like good food and are beer snobs and she is a fantastic runner and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2016 (twice this year, if we want to split hairs) and we talk nearly every day. I am very excited to be traveling to Napa with her - and I’ve convinced her that we’re conquering our first race in South America together someday in the not so distant future. I am also going to see her at Thanksgiving in Omaha where will be running a trail half-marathon together, naturally. We travel well together and I really don’t know anyone else, other than my sister, that I could possibly coerce into run a destination race with me.
But I’ve rambled on enough, I plan on book-ending my summer in Chicago with trips to Eastern Europe. I am planning a trip to Croatia, Montenegro, and where ever else the spirit moves us, in August. I am very much looking forward to this trip because my travel buddy for this one went to Napa with me last year and we travel well together and I am pretty sure her husband is joining us too. I can’t wait for relaxing, exploring, eating, and drinking with these two!
In May, I’m headed to the Baltics, most likely on my own for the entire trip. I registered for what is perhaps the cheapest ($30.54!) marathon in the world in Riga, Latvia. My sister might run the half or attempt her first full and come for the Riga portion of the trip, but she’s a teacher so taking off in May is more difficult for her. I’m happy either way, as solo travel is now very comfortable for me. The Balkan nations have fascinated me for awhile and I’m very excited to plan trips to Eastern Europe exclusively for next summer.
Currently, I can’t decide upon the full details of this trip at the moment, but I will have to by the end of the calendar year. Obviously, I will be in Latvia for a few days, but then I’m not sure if I want to go on to Tallinn, Estonia or Vilnius, Lithuania. From Estonia, I could do a day trip to Helsinki, but I could also fly into Helsinki. Another option is flying to Warsaw and spending a bit of time there before moving on to Riga or before heading home.
Since I’m undecided at this point, I purchased the entire Eastern Europe book because it will be useful for both trips and for future planning. There’s also the possibility that I will make a stop in Amsterdam for a few days, I’ve never been and Amsterdam looks so charming! A friend I made in Iceland lives there and I would not mind visiting him on my way back home. Only time will tell with that one.
Both trips will be about 10 days, and I will stay in Airbnb's, because I sincerely enjoy that style of travel, it makes me feel like more of a local. I will also probably do more cooking/grocery shopping on the first trip to save money, and save my money for dinners out. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet but that is one way to really save money when you have access to a kitchen and cooking utensils.
I know this is an ambitious travel schedule for next summer, less than a year away. However, if I make the plans, I will make it work, that is my motto.